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Will Wright’s Serendipity Machine

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In a recent interview, game maker Will Wright shared some ideas his upcoming game HiveMind will be built around:

If we had that much situational awareness about you and at the same time we were building this very high-level map of the world, and I don’t just mean where Starbuck’s is, but all sorts of things like historical footnotes and people you might want to meet. I started thinking about games that we can build that would allow us to triangulate you in that space and build that deep situational awareness. There will be all types of games, but the key will be focusing the experiences, including multiplayer, within the real world and away from the fictional world that games currently invest in.

To me that sounds like he’s building a massive serendipity machine, not unlike the net machines and pokkecon in Bruce Sterling’s short story Maneki Neko. Should this work, then it would be more than a game. A real game changer, so to speak.

FDCareer brings roleplaying games to business networking online

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A quirky, but interesting approach to business networking combines pen-and-paper style roleplaying games with career networking sites like LinkedIn or Xing. It’s aimed at students and young professionals.

Going by the (not so hip) name FDCareers, the service lets you choose a character class and gain experience points, eventually giving you level-ups for your accomplishments. You gain points by adding experiences to your CV and by interacting with others on the platform, so it adds a playful touch to the somewhat dry profiling approach that Xing takes. (LinkedIn takes a similar, if way more simple approach here, with their percentage-based profile building.)

In an email describing the service, they state:

Every time you gain an internship, become a leader of an organization, or get a high GPA, you gain experience and level-up in FD Career. People with high levels gain prestige and access to new features of the site. Our goal is to make personal and professional development fun for students and young professionals.

There are five categories you can get levels in: Education, Experience, Leadership, Social and Initiative. Adding friends on FDCareers would give you points. For example: By joining and adding a friend, I got two “social points”. Internships or job experience as well as social engagements would give extra points.

This approach is pretty cool, why should professional mean all dry and boring? However, there’s a few drawbacks as it is: First, the name. FDCareer? Could hardly be more boring, sadly to say. Second, the interface doesn’t exactly look like fun, either. (Even LinkedIn has a more compelling, more playful user interface.) Third, at the time I tried the service, I noticed a few technical problems (PHP errors in the profile pages).

As it is, FDCareers looks like a lot still has to be done. It’ll be a while, and a lot of work. The idea of spicing up boring resume building with gaming elements could be fun, though. Maybe the team should look into the basics of Alternate Reality Gaming, there could be some great inspiration there.

(Disclosure: Joseph Yi of Future Delivery, the company behind FDCareers, asked me for feedback on the service.)